Along the dirt road

Years ago in the early 1990’s I lived in a little two bedroom bungalow along a dirt road in the country side of Swampyland. I was struggling to find a job and regarded as poor but I could always pay the bill for heating oil so I was ok I reckoned, albeit only just.

The Dutch were still paying each other in Guilders then, there was no Euro yet, people didn’t even know the word. There was a union of European countries, but normal people didn’t know about it or didn’t care. We just lived our peaceful lives in those days.

Now I am not saying everything was better then, I am not a naive sentimental git who rages against modern life although I do have some tendencies towards those simple things in life of the past. I have a mechanical pub clock on the wall for example, and I play vinyl records and use a pair of old-fashioned bifocals for reading, and I wear a hand wound wristwatch.

But paying in Guilders had some advantages that are long gone nowadays. First, it made us feel like a proud Dutch nation, stubborn maybe, but proud. We had Guilders, the rest of the world didn’t. And anyone with that kind of money should feel rich, self sufficient, no doubt about that. And secondly, it made us independent.

Let me explain that with an example. One of the coins we used represented 2.5 Guilders, it was called a Rijksdaalder. That is a Dutch word that can best be translated as ‘The Kingdoms Coin’. Just imagine the impact of that word to a youngster in Swampyland in those days. If as a child you had a Guilder, having one of those coins in your possessions was a superlative of feeling rich. It was a coin that would say: listen, you can pay with Guilders but if you have this Rijksdaalder you are 2.5 times richer than normal people. At least, that’s what it meant to me as a child and I am sure it meant the same to a lot of my peers in the 1980’s. It still felt like that in that year, 1991.

Europe? Brussels? Who are they? There is nothing beyond our borders that could be better, everything you need is here. Now about that Rijksdaalder, The Kingdoms Coin. When I lived in that little cottage along the dirt road, I remember I had one of those in my wallet one day. There were farms in that area, along the same dirt road. And I went on my way walking on my clogs and wearing dungarees, red handkerchief in my pocket as the Dutch did in those days to go buy food. I didn’t have to go to a supermarket, although there was one in the village, at a 3 mile distance.

Arriving at the first farm I bought a pint of milk and got 2 Guilders and 25 cents back. Then I went on my way to the second farm and got myself 3 spuds and a bunch of Kale, my favourite food in winter time. Coming to the last farm along the road, I bought a smoked sausage that cost me 50 cents. And then on my way back, I still had 1 Guilder in my wallet. I left my house as a wealthy man coming back still with money in my pocket. And lots of food, enough for 2 days. Milk came straight from the cows, I had to pasteurise it myself boiling it in the milk pan in my kitchen. And maybe I had to search for a little worm in the Kale and get rid of it, I had no problem with that, that was simple life to me.

In sharp contrast with that is the present time in Swampyland. We don’t feel rich anymore with Euros in our wallets and as they come from all European countries we do not feel independent anymore. Brussels took that from us along with our pride in our nation. And no more walking along a dirt road for groceries. Prices have gone up so high that you wouldn’t be able to buy two days food for the equivalent of a Rijksdaalder and walk back home still with a warm Dutch Guilder in your Dungarees pocket.

Reminiscing on this I can so understand why the British want to reclaim their country back, I just wished our Dutch government would wise up and do the same! You might be afraid of the negative effects and scare mongers say it would put us back 40 years in time but just imagine, you would be ok as you were ok then! We were ok in those days and happy. This country maybe has taken the wrong turn somewhere along the dirt road but it’s not too late to return with enough money to make us feel proud and independent again. We may not be walking back with a Dutch Guilder in our pocket but we would go up that road with enough money to pay for all our daily needs, trust me.